What to Know Before You Use Your Pickup Truck to Tow

The Proper Way to Tow with Your Pickup Truck

A proper towing setup is very important for safe towing. So before you head out on the road, make sure your truck is properly equipped, and know the necessary information before you try to use your pickup truck to tow.

Payload rating and gross vehicle weight rating are extremely important to consider. Your truck’s gross weight rating is how much it weighs without any cargo. A pickup’s payload rating is the weight of the load you can place in the truck’s bed before the back end starts to veer too close to the rear tires. Weight distribution is also important to be aware of and is important in gauging the safety of the load.

If you have too much tongue weight relative to your gross trailer weight, it could cause the hitch of the trailer and the rear axle of your truck to dip, and the front of the trailer will veer toward the ground, which in turn brings the front of the truck off of the road. If your truck dips too far, such as in circumstances when you need to brake suddenly, you could easily lose all braking traction and steering control of the tires on your front axle, which could potentially lead to disaster.

Trailer Signal Wiring is there for a reason. When you have a tow hitch connected to the rear of your truck, there will normally be some electrical fittings connected, which, when plugged into your connected trailer will show other drivers when you’re turning or braking via the lights connected to any legal trailer. Not plugging these in could prove to be quite dangerous, and it’s a common mistake for a driver to forget to plug in the signal wiring.

Using your safety chains effectively minimizes possible damage from unhitching. Crossing the safety chains under the hitch will make it so that if the hitch disengages, the trailer tongue will fall onto the safety chains rather than the road. Which will maximize your control and reduce the possible harm to you and your vehicle, you will also be able to turn in a tighter circle without the chains binding.

Inspection during downtime is important in keeping your vehicle working efficiently for towing. Whenever you pull over and stop on a lengthy drive, do a simple inspection of the hitch, wiring and tires. Make sure the trailer harness connector and breakaway cable are still connected securely. Check the nut on the hitch ball, and make sure that the hitch pin and its hairpin are still connected to the drawbar correctly. Also check your tire pressure. And don’t forget to check the tire, brake drum and wheel bearing temperatures. If a tire or bearing is noticeably hotter than the others, you may have a problem. And before getting back on the road, remember to double check the hookup to prevent accidental unhitching while you’re on the road.

Switching your transmission into the proper mode to compensate for payload changes will greatly improve efficiency. If your pickup truck has a tow or haul setting of the transmission, this feature is made to compensate for steep roads and payload changes which can reduce your fuel consumption and power delivery. This setting will also help you go slow when descending steep hills by using the engine to break.

Using the proper towing setup is crucial to safety, remember to plug in your signal wiring when applicable, Inspect your truck and trailer whenever you can, use your tow and haul modes to improve your towing efficiency, double check the hookup and remember to drive slow.

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